Texas Rangers: Exploring a Sonny Gray trade with the Reds

The Reds have pitching to trade. The Texas Rangers need said pitching. Could we have a match here?

In the early stages of free agency, Cincinnati surprised the baseball world and put Wade Miley on waivers. To cut salary, they let one of the better pitchers of 2021 go for nothing. This comes after they jettison long-time backstop Tucker Barnhart, to Detroit. The Reds probably wouldn’t have extended a QO to Nick Castellanos without KNOWING he would have rejected it.

So obviously, the Reds are doing what so many Texas Rangers fans swear their organization does: being cheap. Miley was due to make $10 million in 2022 and had a $1 million buy-out. Even if they didn’t want to pay the $10 million the $1 million would be cheap even by the Rays’ standards. All signs seem to point to a total teardown of their roster in an effort to save money. They’ll be most likely trying to send off everyone making above average salary not named Joey Votto.

That brings us to one Sonny Gray. The former Oakland A’s ace has been up and down throughout his career and he’s reportedly on the block.  He’s finished with an ERA of 2.87 or below three times, but he’s also finished with an ERA of 4.19 or above three times.  He has a manageable salary of $10.2 million due in 2022 and a club option of $12 million for ’23. So what would it take to land him?

Exploring a potential Sonny Gray trade between the Texas Rangers and Cincinnati Reds

Well, that 4.19 ERA just so happened to be in 2021, a season that also saw his home run rate jump to 1.3 per nine innings. His WHIP stayed at career consistent 1.22 and his FIP of 3.99 suggests he pitched slightly better than his actual ERA. Gray is a proven starter with two years of team control left at a reasonable rate. He won’t be cheap in terms of prospects but he also won’t cost a ton.

Here’s our proposal:

Reds Get
RHP A.J. Alexy
CF Leody Taveras
2B Nick Solak
Rangers Get
RHP Sonny Gray

The Rangers would rather deal from their 40-man roster, opening up spots for free agents without having to make other cuts. The Reds, meanwhile, are probably looking for controllable assets. That brings us to Major League ready starters on the Rangers who could fill in positions of need in Cincy.

Teams tend to want a pitcher for a pitcher and Alexy set the world on fire in his MLB debut. He came back down to earth a bit after a hot start, but still finished with a respectable 4.70 ERA and a WHIP of 1.30. Most of his concern comes with his control, as he issued 17 walks in 23 innings. He also struck out 17 and would be an enticing piece for the Reds to be able to plug in right away. If command remains an issue, he also has options remaining.

Nick Solak, meanwhile, has yet to take over as every day second baseman for the Rangers. He had a hot start to the season and a bit of a streak when returning from the minors, but ended up with a .242 batting average and 11 home runs overall. With the Rangers expected to sign a shortstop and move IKF to second, Texas would look to deal from depth. The Reds could look to unlock Solak’s bat potential and also of note, he can play the outfield.

Leody Taveras may not be a name many Rangers fans want to see in this trade, while others might think he’s not enough. The former Texas Rangers’ number one prospect has had a dismal performance at the plate so far in his Major League run. The Reds would once again look to fill a recently opened hole (Castellanos departure) with a high ceiling player. Taveras was a top prospect for a reason, right? He is a toolsy player who could simply use a change of scenery and an everyday spot.

If the Texas Rangers don’t feel like paying more for a Jon Gray or a Tyler Anderson, they could look at alternative routes. Sonny Gray is an established everyday starter who may be injury prone and streaky, but could reel off an All-Star caliber season at any given time.

On the flip side, if the season goes poorly, he is easy trade bait. This trade proposal lands the Texas Rangers an experienced starting pitcher while opening up 40-man roster spots. The Cincinnati Reds receive three high ceiling major league ready players who fit immediate team needs and are under control at minimum salary.